On the hunt
Fall hunters are packing the freezer

Terry Halifax
Northern News Services

NNSL (Oct 04/99) - The fall hunt is a busy time for providers in the NWT, and this season is proving to be no different.

The hunt is a lot more than taking a shot. Packing and tracking, gutting and cutting -- it's a big job to put wild meat on the table.

Reports of successful hunts are trickling in and by most accounts this should be a good hunting season.

Kenny Hudson in Fort Smith said he's bagged a cow moose, but hasn't seen the usual sign of the big bulls in the rut yet.

"There's not too many killed yet around here," Hudson said. "There was one shot just three days ago and he was still feeding.

"Which is kind of odd. Usually, this time of year, their stomachs are empty and they're going full force right now," he added.

Bounded by provincial and park borders, the Smith hunt often takes to the water of the Slave River, but Hudson says even on the banks of the river there isn't much movement.

"There's nothing moving on the river yet," he said. "The cows aren't even out on the islands yet. Usually they swim out to the islands this time of year, but there's hardly any tracks on the river at all." When out for a drive with his wife Cathy, Hudson got a tip from his brother some moose were in the area.

"I was looking out one side and Kathy was looking out the other and she yelled, 'A moose! It's got big ears -- a cow!'

"Sure enough, two of them were standing right there and I knocked one down and the other one ran towards me and got between the willows and the thick bush," he recalled.

Hudson said it's still early in the season, so he decided to share the first kill with some elders from the area.

"I cut and wrapped it and I brought some to Oliver Beaulieu and Maria Brown and some elders at the old folks home," Hudson said. "It's early and this one was kind of a freebie, but now I have to get down to some serious filling of the deepfreeze."

At the opposite end of the NWT, on the Delta, the hunt takes to the Barrens and the quarry is the caribou.

Dave McLeod from Aklavik just returned from a successful hunt with a group of hunters near Barge Lake.

McLeod has been hunting the Porcupine herd in this area since he was a kid.

"We've always hunted near Barge Lake and all along the Richardson Mountains," McLeod said. "We went out there yesterday morning and came back last night."

The hunter admitted there was a little luck involved in finding the caribou.

"We never knew the caribou were there," he said. "They just popped out, I guess. I don't know from where.

"We just caught the end of the main herd," he said. "They're on the move and coming closer to Aklavik now."

The party bagged nine of the straggling caribou before flying back to Aklavik, and McLeod said they were very pleased with the meat.

"They're fat," he said.

Out in the Deh Cho, Randy Sibbeston said the moose rut is in full swing, having just returned from a successful hunt with his dad, Senator Nick.

Sibbeston said they've been going to the same area for moose for as long as he can remember.

"We've been hunting for moose around the Liard River/Blackstone since I was a little kid," Sibbeston said. "We just go and we camp around on the islands."

Tracking around the islands is the key to hunting on the river systems, Sibbeston advised.

"We just go and walk around an island and check for tracks going onto the island," he explained. "Moose will typically come off the island the same way they went on, so if you only see one set of tracks, you know the moose is still on the island."

He said the time of day doesn't really make a difference with moose hunting.

"Some people say in the morning or the evening, but I don't really think that way," he said.

"I think that it's pretty much anytime, anyplace -- it's just business as usual for the moose."

"It's just about being in the right place at the right time."